Better than Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup!

Soup.  Four letters that make me salivate.  Especially when it comes to creamy fall flavors.

Soup sometimes gets a bad rap for being super salty and filled with preservatives.  And for the most part, thats correct.  Canned soup is usually loaded with a day's worth of sodium, preservatives and not to mention it's usually in BPA-lined cans, which is an industrial chemical used to make certain plastics and resins.

But soup doesn't have to be unhealthy.  There are plenty of great ingredients and alternatives to keep your soup healthy and nutritionally rich.

Recently, I decided I wanted to create a healthier version of Panera's Broccoli Cheddar soup.  But one bowl alone has 100% your daily total saturate fat, more than 60% your daily sodium recommendation, and not to mention trans fat.  I experimented with some different ingredients, including coconut milk and gluten free artisan flour, to create this creamy and delicious treat.  If not better-tasting (but I think it is!), you can at least be comforted that it is much lower in fat, sodium, and calories then Panera's version AND you can enjoy it for a couple days at a cheaper price :o)

Better than Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup!
1/3 cup butter (I used kerrygold)
1 1/2 cups yellow onion chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 can light coconut milk (get BPA-free cans!)
5 tablespoons gluten free artisan flour
1 head of broccoli florets chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 container or 4 cups organic vegetable broth
12 ounces cheddar cheese shredded

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft. Add 1 can of coconut milk, garlic, and flour and stir to thicken.

Meanwhile, pour vegetable broth in your slow cooker and add thyme and chopped broccoli florets.  Add 3/4 your total amount of cheddar (I used two kinds: one from a local farmer's market and CABOT).  When onion mixture is thickened, add this to slow cooker.  Cover slow cooker with lid and put on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Turn heat to warm and add 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream and the remainder of your shredded cheddar.

Serve warm and enjoy!


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